Wales politics

Welsh firms offered £20m to fund rapid growth

Business meeting Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Company bosses will be offered one-to-one coaching by other entrepreneurs

Business coaches will be offered to firms in Wales with the potential for rapid growth under a £20m scheme aimed at creating more than 10,000 jobs.

The Business Wales Accelerated Growth programme aims to help small and medium sized companies with export potential.

The six-year plan aims to support 1,000 firms, creating at least 10 new jobs at each and boosting exports by £200m.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said the targets were achievable and would deliver sustainable business growth.

"This initiative within Business Wales is specifically designed to provide the highest level of business support to those companies that not only have the potential to grow rapidly but are run by people who are hungry for success," she said.

Hi-tech engineering, pharmaceutical, telecoms and food companies were among those backed by an earlier scheme called High Potential Starts.

Analysis by Business correspondent Brian Meechan

"Ambitious", that is the one word that has come up often when I have been discussing this new fund with business people and economists.

On the face of it, creating 10,000 jobs from a fund of £20m seems to be remarkable.

Just yesterday another fund was launched for social enterprises, which has a target of creating 500 jobs from a £11m investment.

The key is the type of companies that are going to be selected for the new Accelerated Growth Programme.

If they are identified as firms with a high potential, perhaps in key sectors such as life sciences, then it is possible that there could be a significant increase in jobs delivered from an investment in them.

But if we look at a previous EU fund, Jeremie, £155m has so far been spent over a seven year period.

Initially it had a target of 15,000 new jobs. That was reduced to 10,000.

It's actually created almost 3,500 jobs.

It's still in operation so that's expected to some extent.

Extra funding for businesses will always be welcomed if it is targeted at getting more people into better paid work.

But it has to be part of a wider economic strategy and it has to deliver on its promises.

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